With the recent departure of former CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani, who took a position as chancellor of the North Dakota State University System earlier this year, Dr. Joseph Sheley was named as Interim President of CSU Stanislaus. Sheley was serving as the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at California State University, Sacramento before making the move to CSU Stanislaus.
After spending a little more than a month at CSU Stanislaus, Interim President Sheley has been focusing on developing relations with the community not only in the City of Turlock, but around Stanislaus County as well. Part of this endeavor has been to make personal appointments with the Mayors of the cities of Stanislaus County to build bridges between the University and community officials, as well as community members.
“I want them to know that we’re not the center of the universe, we’re part of a community. We’re all looking out for Stanislaus,” stated Sheley. “So the message I want to send is that you matter, and I want to get to know you. I want you to feel free to call me anytime with any question or help that I can give you.”
Dr. Sheley has also spent time meeting business owners within Turlock and recently attended the Chamber of Commerce CEO Luncheon. Also in effort to form relations on campus, Dr. Sheley has made it a personal goal to meet each faculty member at the University.
“During the summer months, I am going around campus to meet everybody who isn’t on vacation, to meet every staff member and know what they do,” stated Sheley. “I want to know what staff members see as important, how they are handling things in this tough era, and I would also like them to know me.”
“I’m really impressed with the people I’ve met,” he continued. “What has been impressive here is their commitment to students. They want them to graduate and have opportunities after they finish.”
Dr. Sheley also stated that he was impressed with region, and that he would strive to continue partnering with others outside of the campus to reach the regional needs. He stated that with wonderful staff and faculty with exceptional expertise, and great students, there are possibilities for making the University a huge public asset.
“I’d like to put two gems on one ring,” explained Sheley with a smile. “We have a great university and a great region. If both parties want to partner for the good of the region, I’m ready.”
With the recent economic downturn, the California State University system has greatly suffered in regards to budget cuts. Dr. Sheley addressed this issue, while stressing the importance of positoning CSU Stanislaus so that it will no longer be a ‘hidden gem’ when the financial situation improves.
“We need to think about this university as it one day begins to come out of the financial crisis,” stated Sheley. “We need to be really well positioned as a campus, not as a hidden gem. A hidden gem, by definition, is something that is not seen. If we’re not seen when scarce resources are being passed out, I do not want to start then at that point trying to figure out what we should do.”
“We have the basic ingredients, and we need to decide where we go with those ingredients and how we present them to the rest of the world. I don’t want us to be last in line.”
Dr. Sheley also shared that should the Governor’s tax initiative not pass in November, California State University Stanislaus would lose approximately $6 million.
“Prior to the downturn, we were already running on a lean budget,” stated Sheley. “When you make changes, the budget gets weaker, and so does the ability to offer the range of programs, and the courses within them.”
In comparison to his experience with working at CSU Sacramento, who has a larger enrollment than that of CSU Stanislaus, Dr. Sheley stated that size does make a difference in terms of state funding.
“Bigger campuses have more marginal flexibility in tough budget times,” he stated. “They have the ability to move things around and change things. Small universities run as a much tighter ship.”
Although Dr. Sheley is currently only serving as the Interim President of Stanislaus, CSU has not made arrangements as of yet in the hiring process for a permanent President.
“I’ll worry about the future as they will,” stated Sheley. “They haven’t started the process yet.”